Trump Moves to End Diversity VISAs that Benefits African and Caribbean Immigrants

Trump Moves to End Diversity VISAs that Benefits African and Caribbean Immigrants


In a surprise to no one, a new immigration proposal by the Trump Administration would end diversity visas. Since so much of Trump’s policy attention on immigration has been focused on blocking people of color from entering the United States from Mexico, Haiti and Africa, and forcing Dreamers to return home, few are surprised.

Only a few weeks after Trump reportedly called Haiti, El Salvador and Africa “shithole countries” during an Oval Office meeting on immigration, his Administration will move to make major policy changes regarding who can enter the United States.   

Rep. Luis Gutierrez noted that trump wished to stop “the merit-based system, unless of course the immigrants come from Norway, then they can continue to come.”  Trump is said to have referenced Norwegians as a group he wanted more individuals to enter the U.S. from. 

The diversity visa program, also known as the Green Card lottery, was started under the

State Department. Diversity visas made up 50,000 immigrant visas in an effort to diversify the immigrant population in the United States by focusing on countries with lower numbers. Disproportionately benefiting are people from countries that have people of color. 

“America is a cutting-edge economy, but our immigration system is stuck in the past. We must replace our current system of extended-family chain migration with a merit-based system of admissions that selects new arrivals based on their ability to contribute to our economy, to support themselves financially, and to strengthen our country,” said President Trump during a January 26 speech. 

The original structure of the diversity visa lottery benefited immigrants from Ireland.  In 1986, placing family considerations and employment to the side, the State Department established several temporary immigrant visa policies. Those immigrating from Ireland benefited disproportionately and the Irish government actively supported the Diversity VISA program. Those born in Ireland in the early 1990s received a set-aside of 40% of all diversity visas, for a total of 48,000 set aside visas out of 120,000 visas. 

Now that the demographics have changed almost thirty years later, so has the policy. It is also widely known that Stephen Miller, a former advisor to Sen. Jeff Sessions who is now the Attorney General, is in charge of the details of the policy.  Miller has widely been seen as an active restrictionist to people of color entering the U.S. during several negotiations. 

“If the president truly cares about this issue, he will stop complicating the process and allow lawmakers to continue their efforts to craft a bipartisan solution that shows some compassion and does not use hundreds of thousands of young people as bargaining chips,” said Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) on January 25 after Trump’s proposal became public. 

Trump is likely to advance his views during his State of the Union speech on the night of January 30.

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Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke is a writer, comms strategist and political analyst. She created Crewof42, a blog focused on African American members of Congress, in 2009. Ms. Burke also writes for NBC BLK, The Root, NNPA and is the Managing Editor of Politic365. As part of a diverse career in politics and media, she has served as a congressional staffer for the U.S. Senate Democratic Policy Committee, Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) and Director of Communications for Justin Fairfax for Lt. Governor of Virginia. From 2014 to 2017, Ms. Burke appeared each Monday on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin on TVOne. Ms. Burke holds a B.A. in History from The American University. She was born and raised in New York. Email: Twitter: @LVBurke. IG: @laurenvburke. Periscope: @LVBurke